By Alex Hamillton, isobel copywriter
If you’re a cat or a dog, what a time it is to be alive. A golden age of flavour. A pet food renaissance.
The food-focused trends we humans have been getting our teeth into for the last decade have at last collided with pet-loving trends. This collision of two tectonic trends has created the healthiest, most flavoursome, most diverse selection of pet food our fluffy friends’ noses have ever sniffed.
You won’t find many of these new fine dining pet foods in the supermarkets. Instead, they’re geared towards the online/direct-to-consumer routes. Pet owners can cut out the middlemen ordering their supply often through subscription, much in the same way they stock up on their coffee pods, weekly groceries or recipe kits.
It’s early days yet, but working from home trends don’t seem to be rowing back as some expected. There’s been a permanent shift in the psyche of work, towards flexibility, balance and general well-being. On top of that, many people have made huge commitments, moving further from their offices, or adopting fluffy family members – two things which are not easily reversed *.
This new and growing group of animal lovers want to get the best they can afford – but above all – they want convenience – and it doesn’t get any more convenient than a box of pet food straight to your door weekly or monthly.
Subscription brands like Republic of Cats and Tails, are focusing on the tailored approach, customising kibble and wet food textures and flavours to find combinations pets love, with minimal hassle.
For those that want a slightly more involved feeding regime, startups like Butternutbox, Katkin and Marleybones are cooking tailored recipes fresh for weekly deliveries that fit into personalised diet plans.
For the full gourmet experience and a dinner time that’s in keeping with their ancestors, there’s lots of new focus in the raw food market from Bella & Duke to Nutriment.
And there’s new science at play too, with popular brands like Ziwipets and Rocketo providing an air-dried approach to nutrition-dense meal times.
All these brands have one thing in common. A solid brand identity and story that we as pet lovers need to hear. We need to know that our choice is the right one. That it’s healthy, sustainable, nutritious and lick-the-bowl-clean good.
It’ll be interesting to see if traditional pet food brands such as Whiskers and Bakers follow suit in the recipe-changing trends that have happened in the likes of the beer industry and beyond. Carlsberg being a great example, the brand went back to the drawing board, reinventing their image and brewing process to keep up with the craft beer movement.
Lily’s, who’ve done fantastically well to score the middle ground between own-label pet foods and luxury high-end brands seem to only be growing. And looking closely, they’ve started introducing more premium options for their diners – gourmet-sounding recipes that deserve a place on a fancy restaurant menu, and real shredded fillets for the less processed look.
Never before has the story of our pet food, where it comes from and how it’s made mattered so much. Brands that tell that story best, will build a strong connection with their customers – or really – their customers’ waiters.
A quick last thing.
It should be said that getting a lockdown puppy hasn’t worked out for everyone.
The RSPCA is reporting a surge in puppies out of home, which in turn can lead to behavioural issues caused by separation anxiety and further problems down the road.
The RSPCA, Dogs Trust or Cats Protection charities would be enormously grateful for even the smallest donation.